Among women who have a mobile phone, 66 per cent say that they can read text messages
What has changed for India’s women between 2005 and 2015 ? The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has some answers. Some things haven’t changed, or have changed only marginally. Women continue to face domestic violence but the figure has come down slightly from 37 per cent to 31 per cent. So the country has to live with the shaming fact that one in three Indian women gets battered at home at one or the other time in her life (the age group being 15 to 49).
The good news
is financial inclusion. The proportion of women who have a bank or savings account that they use ranges from a high of 83 per cent in Goa to 26 per cent in Bihar. But from just around 15 per cent women having a bank account in 2005-06, this number has grown dramatically to 53 per cent in 2015-16. Moreover, these are accounts that women themselves use – suggesting some autonomy in financial decision-making.
Mobile phones were not in extensive use in 2005-’06 and their use was not recorded in NFHS III. But the latest NFHS suggests around 45 per cent women use mobile phones and their number is growing. A deeper dive into the data is equally interesting. Among women who have a mobile phone, 66 per cent say that they can read text messages. Ownership of a mobile phone that women themselves use increases with age, from 25 per cent among women aged 15-19 to 56 per cent among women aged 25-29, but then it decreases for older women. The somewhat puzzling fact emerging from the NFHS data is that the ability to read text messages declines with age: From 88 per cent among women age 15-19 to 48 per cent among women age 40-49. Ownership of a mobile phone that women themselves use varies from a low of 29 per cent in Madhya Pradesh and 31 per cent in Chhattisgarh to a high of 80-81 per cent in Sikkim, Goa, and Kerala.